I don’t think it would be fair of me to write all of these blog posts encouraging you to vote yes in the referendum if I haven’t even acknowledged the opposition’s argument.
In saying that, I’m pretty sure most people know what the No campaign are basing their arguments on: they believe that all children have the right to both a father and a mother, and that allowing same-sex marriage defies these rights.
Take Mothers and Fathers Matter for example. They launched their campaign for a No vote a mere two days ago, but the amount of rejection of their beliefs that I have witnessed so far on social media sites has been incredible. It is clear they are canvassing for better rights for children but what they fail to realise (or are intentionally failing to realise) is that the marriage referendum has nothing to do with protecting the rights of a child.
As most of us already know, it is the Children and Family Relationships Bill that will deal with children’s rights – not the marriage equality referendum. The fact that these two completely separate issues are being entwined by the No side is both deceiving and appalling.
Although I’d love to think the people of Ireland will be able to look past these twisted campaigns and false information, involving children in such an already-heated campaign could potentially sway voters.
When it comes down to it, people who are on the fence about what way they should vote will ultimately be swayed by whichever side appeals emotionally to them. I’m not saying “love is love” and #makegráthelaw aren’t effective ways of campaigning for a Yes vote. However, ordinary people are probably going to relate to stories of children without parents a lot more than hashtags about two men who love each other very much.
We can’t be blind to the No campaign’s strategy; they have their story and they’re sticking to it. No matter how hard we try to convince people that what the No side are saying is total bs, it’s not going away. The Yes side is running out of time and it really needs to make these last few weeks count.
What we need are real-life stories. We need people to speak now about their experiences and how those experiences have impacted their lives. The No campaign talks about a child’s right to both a father and a mother, but what about the children sitting in orphanages that would do anything for either one of them?
What about all of the children who have been raised by a single parent and feel loved just as much as children with two parents? What about the children who have lost a parent at a young age but have still grown up to be incredible people? What about the children who are currently being raised by same-sex partners and want nothing more than to see their family recognised officially by the state? I’m pretty sure they would all agree that having two parents of the same sex is better than having no parents at all.
You don’t have to be LGBT to want this referendum to pass. You don’t have to be LGBT to put a “Yes Equality” sign on your profile picture. You don’t have to be LGBT to voice your stories on what this referendum means to you. You don’t have to be LGBT to show your support on social media by sharing links. You don’t have to be LGBT to realise how important this referendum is. And you certainly don’t have to be LGBT to acknowledge that two people that are in love deserve the chance to wear their wedding dress, cut their wedding cake, share their first dance in front of the people who love them, and have their love recognised by the state.
But it’s not just about the couple that want to get married. Think of the mother that has been dreaming about shopping for a wedding dress with her daughter since the day she was born. Think of the father shedding a tear as he walks his daughter down the aisle and gives her away. Think of the brother that is delighted to be a best man for the first time. Think about the life-long friends that want nothing more than for the grooms to be happy.
When you cast your vote in this referendum, you’re not just affecting the LGBT community. You’re affecting all of the families, all of the friends, every single person that knows someone who is LGBT. It’s been said time and time again but we all know someone that is going to be affected either directly or indirectly by this referendum. If nothing else, use your vote for them. They may never know which way you voted but that’s not important.